David McNaughton
Florida State University
In this paper we defend a version of moral internalism and a cognitivist account of motivation against recent criticisms. The internalist thesis we espouse claims that, if an agent believes she has reason to A, then she is motivated to A. Discussion of counter-examples has been clouded by the absence of a clear account of the nature of motivation. While we can only begin to provide such an account in this paper, we do enough to show that our version of internalism can be defended against putative counter-examples. All theories of motivation which take what motivates to be a psychological state run foul of the following plausible constraint: the reason why you ought to do an action and the reason why you do it can be the same. In our view, however, while what motivates is a reason (which is a fact) the state of being motivated is a cognitive stage, viz. the belief that one has reason to act. In cases where the agent's relevant beliefs are false, then she has no reason to act, but nontheless her action can be explained in other ways.
Keywords moral motivation  internalism  reasons  cognitive theory of motivation
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1023/A:1009925220105
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 62,289
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

The Possibility of Altruism.Thomas Nagel - 1970 - Oxford Clarendon Press.
Moral Reasons.Jonathan Dancy - 1993 - Blackwell.

View all 19 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Might Desires Be Beliefs About Normative Reasons?Alex Gregory - 2017 - In Julien Deonna & Federico Lauria (eds.), The Nature of Desire. Oxford University Press. pp. 201-217.
Motivation in Agents.Christian Miller - 2008 - Noûs 42 (2):222–266.
The Nature of Evil.Eve Garrard - 1998 - Philosophical Explorations 1 (1):43 – 60.

View all 17 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

What’s Wrong with Morality?C. Daniel Batson - 2011 - Emotion Review 3 (3):230-236.
An Internalist Dilemma—and an Externalist Solution.Caj Strandberg - 2012 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 10 (1):25-51.
Reasons and the Ambiguity of 'Belief'.Maria Alvarez - 2008 - Philosophical Explorations 11 (1):53 – 65.
Moral Motivation Pluralism.Ragnar Francén - 2010 - The Journal of Ethics 14 (2):117-148.
Hypothetical Motivation.Donald C. Hubin - 1996 - Noûs 30 (1):31-54.


Added to PP index

Total views
76 ( #139,752 of 62,249 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #457,173 of 62,249 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes